The shocking announcement on June 23, 2016, that Britain will exit the EU leaves wide open the real possibility that doing business with Britain will become much more complex and more uncertain.
The EU’s laws that are systematized and implemented across the member jurisdictions yield many benefits. With Britain pulling out, there is much speculation about what will happen next. Will Britain continue to adopt the EU rules it has benefitted from as its own, or will it endeavor to create new rules? How much additional legal compliance will the separation add? Will Britain adopt inconsistent policies that will make it more difficult to deal with creating uniform policies for businesses operating in multiple countries?
Uniformity in branding with trademark protection, for example, may become more challenging. Emissions controls from a compliance prospective may become more problematic if differing standards are adopted. If you are doing business overseas and you want to choose English law to govern, how will that turn out, if otherwise EU law would have governed?
Privacy considerations from a marketing perspective, including social media and website policies, and the use of the data collected on-line, may diverge, as we already know that EU standards are different from those of the U.S. (and even in the U.S. the standards can be impacted by state privacy considerations). This is especially true for sensitive data, including protected health care information and financial data.
What you need to consider if you are doing business in the UK is that the consistency previously enjoyed by the application of EU law to a variety of issues may necessitate your American counsel not only consulting with EU counsel, but with British counsel specifically. This will understandably increase the cost of compliance and potentially necessitate changes in the way a U.S. company does business in Britain or otherwise with British companies.
Some commentators have predicted that other European countries such as France and Italy may follow suit. If this happens, a domino effect could follow, and then the EU may find itself without many of the core Western European countries as members.
Just watch the legal landscape carefully so as not to be caught off guard with these types of changes. Consult with your legal counsel, and be proactive in meeting the challenges that are sure to follow from Brexit.